Though many things come to mind about William Shakespeare’s play "Twelfth Night", one thing stands out among the rest: the theme of identity. This issue comes into play all throughout the book, from the beginning to the end. It affects almost every character in some way or another, even the minor characters that are involved within the plot of story.

Almost from the beginning the theme of identity comes into play when Viola changes her identity to Cesario. Here, Viola’s change not only affected herself but almost every other character, from the Duke to Olivia. When she disguises herself to get close to the Duke, the Duke befriends her and Olivia falls in love with her. Here Viola’s false identity of Cesario unknowingly manipulates Olivia, making Olivia fall in love with her, giving her lavish gifts such as the ring. When she yet again changes her identity, this time back to her true one, this yet again has an effect on Cesario, which ends up finishing in marriage. However, the original change in her identity didn’t occur with out consequences, her initial change of identity ends up wooing Olivia, who unknowingly, effect by the change of identity, marries Viola’s brother Sebastian.     

Another person who plays a role in the theme of identity is Sebastian, Viola’s brother. With Sebastian’s survival from the shipwreck that, the unknowing Viola still didn’t know her brother was alive. Now, when the two meet, there is confusion amongst the two which adds to the plays comedy (act V, scene i, from lines 209 on). Here they, uninformed to each of their identities, start name features of a common link they have, their father. Here, the humor is added when with each thing listed was shared in common between the two, and finally the realization of their relation was formed. Another place where identity plays a factor with Sebastian is with his relationship with Olivia. With a false appearance, Olivia falls in love with Sebastian’s twin, Viola. With out knowing the difference between the one she fell in love with and her twin, Olivia doesn’t marry the person she fell in love with, but instead she marries Sebastian, and Sebastian, just being thrown in the mix, goes along for the ride.

Now besides people actually changing their identities, the theme of identity comes into play somewhere else, this time involving Malvolio. As a cruel joke, a letter was placed for Malvolio to read that professed Olivia’s love. The true identity of the person that was to read the letter was not Malvolio, bringing forth another case of the theme identity. Cause of this misinterpretation, Malvolio opens an image of insanity when he wears those yellow socks and professes his love, all because he mistook the identity to whom those words belonged.

With out the theme of identity, this story, "Twelfth Night", would be nothing but a few people who are in need of someone to love. All of the characters in the play (that carry at least some importance), are affected by the theme of this play some way or another. The theme of identity develops the plot of the story, not to mention the comedy in which it brings to this play.